NAA mediaXchange 2016 Hits the Nation’s Capital

(From left to right) Moderator, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post talks to Jay Carney, former White House Press Secretary (2008-2014), Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA TODAY and Michael McCurry, former White House Press Secretary (1995-1998) about covering the White House.
(From left to right) Moderator, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post talks to Jay Carney, former White House Press Secretary (2008-2014), Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA TODAY and Michael McCurry, former White House Press Secretary (1995-1998) about covering the White House.

Just as the nation has been captivated by this year’s presidential election, so too was the Newspaper Association of America’s annual mediaXchange conference. Local elections dominated this year’s sessions along with other industry trends, such as ad blocking, mobile and advertising strategies.

This year’s mediaXchange, held in Washington D.C. on April 17-20, saw 830 attendees and nearly 40 exhibitors, according to Christy Norcross, NAA convention coordinator.

With the conference’s “local” theme in mind, panels, such as the Evolution of Local News, focused on how engaging audiences on a local level can draw in revenue and reader loyalty. Moderated by Billy Penn’s Jim Brady, the panel included the Washington Post’s Greg Barber and executive director of Treasure Coast Newspapers Mark Tomasik, both discussing strategies, such as going deep into local issues and building relationships with readers online to create more loyalty.

Brian Gorman of Wave2 Media Solutions and Shelby Carlson of AdCellerant
Brian Gorman of Wave2 Media Solutions and Shelby Carlson of AdCellerant

The Accelerator Pitch program, a conference favorite ever year, showcased some of the best startups in the industry. Companies like Stringr, which brings freelance video content producers to newspapers through an expansive database, and NewsPix, which puts local newspapers’ photos front and center on search engines, stayed true to the conference’s theme.

Tony Hunter, Tribune Publishing's president of national revenue and strategic initiatives, speaks with Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP via live feed from London about effective advertising strategies for the newspaper industry.
Tony Hunter, Tribune Publishing’s president of national revenue and strategic initiatives, speaks with Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP.

The conference was also full of influential speakers. Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron spoke about the industry’s cultural shift to digital, and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, gave insight into the top emerging advertising trends.

Unlike previous election years, this year’s mediaXchange did not host any presidential candidates; however, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent in a video addressing the attendees. Her message focused on the importance of newspapers to the democratic process and encouraged industry leaders to continue pushing forward.

The conference ended with a reception at the Washington Post’s new headquarters, where Tony Hunter, Tribune Publishing’s president of national revenue and strategic initiatives, was named the new NAA chairman. He succeeded Donna Barrett, president and CEO of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

Next year’s mediaXchange will take place April 30-May 3 in New Orleans. For more information, visit naa.org/mediaXchange.

For more mediaXchange photos, check out our photo gallery on Facebook.

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Published: April 25, 2016

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